Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1992

The 1992 Hugo Awards were presented at Magicon in Orlando, Florida. The best novel award went to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar (post). This was Bujold’s second Hugo win, following the previous year’s The Vor Game (post). Barrayar is about motherhood and reproduction as mediated by technology, society, war, and the tensions between the expectations of a galactic society and a backwater planet. It’s very definitely part of the Vorkosigan saga, and a direct sequel to the first novel, Shards of Honor, but it also stands alone which seems to be a requirement for a Hugo winner in a series. I think it’s an excellent book and well deserving of its Hugo. It’s in print and in the Cardiff library system — for this week, “the library.” (I’m in a different time zone from the Grande Bibliotheque and they won’t let me search. But it’s reasonable to use the library where I am.)

There are five other nominees and I’ve read three of them. Let’s start with the ones I haven’t read.

Anne McCaffrey’s All the Weyrs of Pern is book 11 of the Pern series, and I stopped reading somewhere around book 7 or so because it didn’t seem to be doing anything new. I am therefore not really qualified to say whether this is a worthy nominee, but I’m inclined to think not so much. It’s in print but it’s not in the library.

I haven’t read Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen for the same reason — I didn’t like the previous volume, 1980’s Hugo winner The Snow Queen. Again, I can’t say if it’s a good nominee, but as this is a case of me not being able to read it, in this case it might well be. It’s also in print but it’s not in the library.

Emma Bull’s Bone Dance is a post-apocalyptic fantasy about gender. It’s excellent, thought provoking and unusual, exactly the sort of book that should be on this list. It’s in print but not in the library — and that isn’t surprising as I’m searching a UK library for a book that never had a UK edition.

Michael Swanwick’s Stations of the Tide is another wonderful book that’s hard to describe succinctly. I think “surreal hard SF” is about as close as I can get — it’s kind of cyberpunk and kind of space opera and it’s really all about the people. It begins “The bureaucrat fell from the sky.” I’ve never written about it because it’s one of those books that makes me incoherent. It’s in print, but it’s not in the library.

Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide is one of my least favourite books. It’s the third in the Ender series, and if there’s one thing I really hate it’s a sequel that tramples all over the previous books. If they had partial memory wipe, I’d wipe my memory of having read this. It’s future planetary SF with AI and aliens and idiotic suspension-of-disbelief-destroying invention of FTL. I grind my teeth in its general direction. I’m sorry it was nominated for a Hugo and glad it didn’t win. It’s in print and in the library.

So, two men and four women, all American (one living in Ireland) and all science fiction of various kinds. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award went to Stations of the Tide, and very well deserved. Other eligible nominees were Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Pat Cadigan’s Synners and John Barnes Orbital Resonance (post) all of which would have been excellent Hugo nominees.

The World Fantasy Award was won by Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. Other nominees not previously mentioned were Hunting the Ghost Dancer, A. A. Attanasio, The Little Country, Charles de Lint,  Outside the Dog Museum, Jonathan Carroll and The Paper Grail, James P. Blaylock.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Bradley Denton’s very odd Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede. Other nominees not already mentioned: The Silicon Man, Charles Platt and  A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason.

I like the Arnason a great deal — I like everything she has written. As well as this Campbell nod, it won the Mythopoeic Award and the Tiptree. I think it was one of the most significant and talked about books of the year and it should have been a Hugo nominee.

The Philip K. Dick Award was given to Ian McDonald’s brilliant metafantasy King of Morning, Queen of Day (post) which I wouldn’t exactly call science fiction, but never mind. Other non-overlapping nominees: Bridge of Years, Robert Charles Wilson, The Cipher, Kathe Koja, Mojo and the Pickle Jar, Douglas Bell.

The Tiptree Award for genre fiction that does interesting things with gender began this year, and the first winners were Gwyneth Jones’s White Queen and Arnason’s A Woman of the Iron People. Books not previously mentioned and on the short list were: The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle, He, She and It (aka Body of Glass), Marge Piercy, Moonwise, Greer Ilene Gilman, Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler.

The Locus SF Award went to Barrayar. Nominees not previously mentioned were: Heavy Time, C. J. Cherryh (post), The Dark Beyond the Stars, Frank M. Robinson, Brain Child, George Turner, The Garden of Rama, Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee, Ecce and Old Earth, Jack Vance, Russian Spring, Norman Spinrad, The Trinity Paradox, Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason, Death Qualified: A Mystery of Chaos, Kate Wilhelm, The Illegal Rebirth of Billy the Kid, Rebecca Ore , The Ragged World, Judith Moffett, Carve the Sky, Alexander Jablokov, Eternal Light, Paul J. McAuley.

Some nice things, but nothing that strikes me as better than the nominees we have. Also, was Death Qualified genre? I thought it was a straight mystery.

The Locus Fantasy Award went to Sheri Tepper’s Beauty, a book I disliked when I first read it almost as much as Xenocide, but which has weathered in the memory much better. It’s an odd mix of fantasy and SF. I should read it again, because I have often been reminded of it in the time in between 1992 and now.

Other nominees not previously mentioned: Eight Skilled Gentlemen, Barry Hughart, The Rainbow Abyss, Barbara Hambly, The Hereafter Gang, Neal Barrett, Jr., Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett, Riverrun, S. P. Somtow, Outside the Dog Museum, Jonathan Carroll, King of the Dead, R. A. MacAvoy,  Nothing Sacred, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough , The Sorceress and the Cygnet, Patricia A. McKillip, The Revenge of the Rose, Michael Moorcock, Cloven Hooves, Megan Lindholm, The Magic Spectacles, James P. Blaylock,  The End-of-Everything Man, Tom De Haven, Flying Dutch, Tom Holt,  Elsewhere, Will Shetterly, The White Mists of Power, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle, Illusion, Paula Volsky.

The Mythopoeic Award went, as previously mentioned, to Arnason’s A Woman of the Iron People. The only nominee not previously mentioned was Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (post), one of my favourite books.

The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to Niven, Pournelle and Flynn’s Fallen Angels.

So, was there anything they all missed?

There was Robert Reed’s very strange Down the Bright Way (post), George Alex Effinger’s The Exile Kiss, and Steven Brust’s The Phoenix Guards (post).

So looking at the year as a whole, the nominees are pretty good, but I think the absence of A Woman of the Iron People is regrettable. I’d also have liked to see Orbital Resonance and Synners on the ballot in place of the McCaffrey and the Card. But I do think Barrayar is the kind of book that should be honoured by the Hugo, and the presence of Stations on the Tide and Bone Dance on the ballot is heartening. And looking at these nominees as a whole, they really do give a pretty good picture of where the field was. So a pretty good set of choices overall.

Other Categories

NOVELLA 

  • “Beggars in Spain”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Apr 1991; Axolotl) 
  • “And Wild for to Hold”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Jul 1991; What Might Have Been? Vol. 3: Alternate Wars) 
  • The Gallery of His Dreams, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Pulphouse/Axolotl; Asimov’s Sep 1991) 
  • Griffin’s Egg, Michael Swanwick (Legend; St. Martin’s)
  • “Jack”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Oct 1991)

If anybody had asked me before I started this series I’d have had no idea that the novella was the Hugo category that I consistently remembered best and which had the best nominees, but year after year there it is. Nancy Kress was having a good year, and that’s a tremendous winner. But the Swanwick and the Willis are also classics. Somebody should do a collection of all the novella nominees ever, or e-books of all of them or something. They’d make a great book-club. (Novella-club?)

NOVELETTE 

  • “Gold”, Isaac Asimov (Analog Sep 1991) 
  • “Dispatches from the Revolution”, Pat Cadigan (Asimov’s Jul 1991) 
  • “Fin de Cyclé”, Howard Waldrop (Night of the Cooters: More Neat Stories 1990; Asimov’s mid-Dec 1991) 
  • “Miracle”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec 1991) 
  • “Understand”, Ted Chiang (Asimov’s Aug 1991)

Time is a strange thing. It’s so odd to see “Understand” and “Gold” on the same ballot when they feel as if they come from different eras.

SHORT STORY 

  • “A Walk in the Sun”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Oct 1991) 
  • “Buffalo”, John Kessel (Fires of the Past: Thirteen Contemporary Fantasies About Hometowns; F&SF Jan 1991) 
  • “Dog’s Life”, Martha Soukup (Amazing Stories Mar 1991) 
  • “In the Late Cretaceous”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s mid-Dec 1991) 
  • “One Perfect Morning, With Jackals”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Mar 1991) * “Press Ann”, Terry Bisson (Asimov’s Aug 1991) 
  • “Winter Solstice”, Mike Resnick (F&SF Oct/Nov 1991)

Pretty good lineup here too. A good year for short fiction.

NONFICTION BOOK 

  • The World of Charles Addams, Charles Addams (Knopf) 
  • The Bakery Men Don’t See Cookbook, Jeanne Gomoll, et al, eds (SF3)
  • Clive Barker’s Shadows in Eden, Stephen Jones, ed. (Underwood-Miller) 
  • The Science Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History: Third Edition, Jack L. Chalker & Mark Owings (Mirage Press)
  • Science-Fiction: The Early Years, Everett F. Bleiler (Kent State University Press)

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION 

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Addams Family
  • Beauty and the Beast (Disney movie)
  • The Rocketeer
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

No Award.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR 

  • Gardner Dozois
  • Ellen Datlow 
  • Edward L. Ferman 
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch 
  • Stanley Schmidt

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST 

  • Michael Whelan 
  • Thomas Canty 
  • David A. Cherry
  • Bob Eggleton 
  • Don Maitz

ORIGINAL ARTWORK 

  • Michael Whelan, Cover of The Summer Queen (by Joan D. Vinge; Warner Questar) 
  • Don Maitz, Cover of Heavy Time (by C. J. Cherryh; Warner Questar) 
  • Bob Eggleton, Cover of Lunar Descent (by Allen Steele; Ace)
  • Bob Eggleton, Cover of Asimov’s Jan 1991 (illustrating “Stations of the Tide” by Michael Swanwick) 
  • Thomas Canty, Cover of The White Mists of Power (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch; Roc)

A short lived category, and one completely oriented to US voters — I just realised I’ve not seen most of those covers, even though I have read the books, because the UK editions had different covers.

SEMI-PROZINE 

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown 
  • Interzone, David Pringle 
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer, Robert K. J. Killheffer & Gordon Van Gelder
  • Pulphouse, Dean Wesley Smith 
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew J. Porter

Locus wins again.

FANZINE 

  • Mimosa, Dick & Nicki Lynch 
  • File 770, Mike Glyer 
  • FOSFAX, Timothy Lane & Janice Moore
  • Lan’s Lantern, George “Lan” Laskowski 
  • Trapdoor, Robert Lichtman

FAN WRITER 

  • Dave Langford 
  • Avedon Carol 
  • Mike Glyer
  • Andrew Hooper 
  • Evelyn C. Leeper 
  • Harry Warner, Jr.

FAN ARTIST 

  • Brad W. Foster 
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Peggy Ranson 
  • Stu Shiffman 
  • Diana Harlan Stein

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (Not a Hugo)

  • Ted Chiang 
  • Barbara Delaplace 
  • Greer Ilene Gilman 
  • Laura Resnick 
  • Michelle Sagara

Well this is much better than 1991!

Ted Chiang is a brilliant winner, just the kind of person who ought to win. He had published two astonishing novellas, both nominated for awards, and he has gone on to have a strong career publishing some of the best short stories ever written in the genre — including a nominee for this year’s Hugos

Greer Gilman’s Moonwise was a first novel that had made a big impression. She has since won the World Fantasy Award with a short story and the Tiptree with her second novel, Cloud and Ashes. Gilman is one of the genre’s great stylists, and it’s great to see her nominated.

Michella Sagara had also just published a first novel. She was to go on to have a terrific career writing fantasy as Michelle Sagara, Michelle West (her married name) and Michelle Sagara West. She also reviews for F&SF. Great nominee.

Barbara Delaplace had published only short work, and she went on to publish occasional short stories thoughout the nineties and in the last decade. I’m not familiar with her work.

Laura Resnick won in 1993, so let’s leave her for next year.

I’d say these are a good selection of the best new writers of the year, based on subsequent performance.


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

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